Creative Director At Google Stadia Advocates Streamers Paying Game Devs And Publishers

from the ruh-roh dept

Way back in 2013, we discussed an interesting study conducted by Google looking at the effect of let’s play and video game reviews has on the gaming industry. That study’s conclusion was that viewers watched let’s plays at a far higher clip than, say, video game trailers. Two-thirds of those views appeared to be watchers focusing on the video itself, whereas the other third were watching on secondary devices/screens in order to find tips and tricks for completing the game in question. Both were conducive to promoting the gaming industry, being a method for finding out if a game is worth buying and because gamers know they have a resource to help complete a game.

Fast forward to 2020 and Google has its own game-streaming platform that it’s trying to get off of the ground. One of the folks that works at Google on the platform is Alex Hutchinson. And when it comes to let’s play videos and streams, hoo boy does he have some thoughts.

Earlier today Alex Hutchinson, creative director at Typhoon Studios (bought by Google last year to make Stadia games), made a tweet suggesting that Twitch and YouTube users should be “paying the developers and publishers” of the games they stream.

And the tweet that set this shitstorm off:

The backlash online was swift and severe. So much so, in fact, that Hutchinson went on to wonder aloud why people were so mad about all of this. Several people attempted to explain to him that game streams are good for developers and publishers, not bad. Others pointed out that any licensing would go to the publisher and not the developer anyway, so Hutchinson was really just advocating for big companies to make more big money. And one streamer pointed out that Hutchinson’s Twitter banner was fan-art of that very streamer, used without attribution or permission.

Meanwhile, I’m just wondering why Hutchinson doesn’t just go read his own employer’s 2013 study that shows just how beneficial let’s plays and game-streaming is for the industry. He might also want to realize that Google’s YouTube has an entire wing of it’s service called YouTube Gaming, built around game-streaming.  

For what it’s worth, there is no reason to think that Hutchinson is making any actual policy decisions at Google or for Stadia. And, more importantly, Google reps have already come out and said Hutchinson’s tweets don’t reflect the views of the company.  

But it’s probably time to educate Hutchinson on the actual facts that his own employer has made clear in the past.

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Comments on “Creative Director At Google Stadia Advocates Streamers Paying Game Devs And Publishers”

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47 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Jason says:

I’ve never really gotten in to watching game streams, so forgive me if this is a dumb question.

But, I don’t get it. Is he saying that the person playing the game and streaming video of it should have bought the game? Because it sure sounds like they already did.

Or is he saying that the person watching a video of someone else playing the game should have bought the game, in order to watch someone else play it?

Or is he saying that the person playing the game and streaming video of it should have paid extra for the privilege of…letting someone else watch them play it? (And quite possibly produce more sales of the game.)

None of those makes any sense, at least to me, but I’m not sure which particular flavor of nonsense he’s trying to advocate.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yeah, he seems to be looking at it like it’s some kind of public performance right, like how buying an album or a movie doesn’t grant you the right to play it in public.

What he doesn’t seem to understand is that the experience of playing a game is entirely different from the experience of watching someone else play it, the two things are not at all comparable, and one is not in any kind of competition with the other.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

the two things are not at all comparable, and one is not in any kind of competition with the other.

True, but to IP maximalists it’s all the same. Any use of a work to them means money should be exchanged. After all they "own" it. Therefore if they demand money, it must be paid.

Hell, if the maximalists could, they’d hook up a monitoring device to every human in existence that automatically withdraws funds from that person’s bank account whenever they thought about a protected work.

The problem with this line of thinking is that it’s incredibly self-serving for doing literally nothing. Any IP maximalist will say that any work deriving from theirs is their work, even if they contributed nothing further to the deviation beyond the already created inspiring work.

Every other industry on earth would never allow someone to demand payment over previously compensated labor in perpetuity. To do so would fundamentally break the entire concept of compensation for labor and paying your way through life. Of which most economies are based on. After all why work for a living when you can do one thing one time and be paid indefinitely for it? That is the exact mindset of IP maximalists: Why should we keep creating works for a living, when we can just milk society indefinitely for the works we’ve already made?

It’s disgusting, and it’s the reason why you have people like Alex Hutchinson and companies like Nintendo, *IAAs, etc. constantly trying to find new ways of leveraging IP law to milk the public.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: AH. Another rare intermittent commenter, only 17 since 2012.

by Hombie Zunter

40 month gap 2012 to 2015, inactive all of 2019 through Aug ’20.

As typical, just pops up as if entirely current, never a mention of gaps or changes here, the Total Paasword Reset of 2017, and most importantly, the Zombies NEVER draw attention, let alone by disagreeing, just blandly supportive, almost unnoticeable.

Moby is astro-turfing. No one has ever been able to suggest some other conclusion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hoping that everyone acts in rational self interest isn’t a great strategy. Certainly if publishers attempted to enforce it they would be legally in the right but it wouldn’t be the best PR. In an ideal world streamers actually would be licenced to use game footage anyway. Some developers and publishers include such licence in their EULAs.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Great purchase there

Yeah, the fact that he doesn’t speak for Stadia is great and all, but the fact that he’s the ‘creative director’ or has any real input on any game company is beyond baffling. Someone that clueless and short-sighted should absolutely not be in any sort of management position of a game company, as they are not just useless but actively harmful to their own industry and employers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Great purchase there

The best part about this whole thing is how it later turned out he’s NOT got that job, he apparently merely "Aspires to it", which is why he goes around telling everyone it’s his role. I’m sure that’s a great way to endear yourself to the folks who might be able to give him that job.

Ben (profile) says:

Re: Re:

No. The world goes around because back around 4.6 billion years ago it was accreted from many thousands (or millions, we don’t actually know) of collisions of debris from a super-nova. Very few of those collisions hit precisely on the centre-line of mass of the two objects, and so all those collisions imparted various amounts of angular momentum to the resulting body, which over the aeons added up into a preferential spin of the earth. And because the debris cloud was orbiting the nascent sun with the angular momentum of the previous system, it already had a spin around the axis of that system providing the abundance of angular momentum aligned in the plane of the solar system. Hence most of the planets in the solar system spin in roughly the same orientation.
The movement of little green pieces of paper really had and has no involvement as they’re too small to have any effect upon the angular momentum of an object the size of the Earth.

Dan R says:

I think it likely that any monetary payments would likely run from the game studio to the streamer. If streamers disvalued to game brands, game studios would already be acting to limit streaming. The bigger issue with the tweat isn’t that it’s a dumb idea, it’s that it assumes streamers would end up paying.

Although from that perspective, protecting brand value for the streamer would be a good idea, especially if it’s basically free. Company- We retain the right to end this rights grant at any time, but grant you needed rights to not worry. Streamer–OK that’s essentially how it is now, thanks for the rubber stamp for the lawyers and the paranoid.

Koby (profile) says:

Re: So, basically just like Link Tax.

And it’s very similar to the online music system that has emerged over the years. Initially, the recording industry was outraged by people sharing music online. All sorts of ideas were bantered about on how the music producers could charge money, even though online sharing mostly increased sales through essentially free promotion. Some of them even became reality. I seem to remember something about a CD tax….

Brainulator9 (profile) says:

Let's Plays as an exception to copyright

Honestly, I think Let’s Plays are in a freedom of panorama-esque state where, yes, they are derivative works, but their very nature means that the derivative work cannot be a substitute for the real thing. You won’t get a full sculpture off of a picture of a sculpture, nor will you get the feeling of playing a game by watching someone else play it. But of course, let’s get on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s case for streaming a game of Among Us, despite these sorts of videos being free advertising at worst. I’m sure the copyright maximalist policy will reinforce positive PR the same way a banana peel on the floor will make it safer to walk. Oh, well, I guess 2nd millenium-minded copyright law has never had to think about video games as a unique form of work requiring major rethinking of our laws.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

No one since the advent of the Mickey Mouse Act who has a damn bit of power to make changes in copyright law has ever suggested we “rethink” copyright laws…for the better, that is. Hell, if Disney knew they could’ve gotten away with extending copyright terms again without catching the ire of far more people than the Mickey Mouse Act did, the House of Mouse would’ve done so in a heartbeat.

Copyright made a hell of a lot of sense when the only way to copy works was either by hand or by using expensive-ass specialty tools that the average person couldn’t access. But in a world where billions of people around the world own devices capable of copying entire works in seconds (and in practically infinite numbers), copyright makes little-to-no sense.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:

Copyright made a hell of a lot of sense when the only way to copy works was either by hand or by using expensive-ass specialty tools that the average person couldn’t access. But in a world where billions of people around the world own devices capable of copying entire works in seconds (and in practically infinite numbers), copyright makes little-to-no sense.

I’ve said in the past that it’s like trying to get everyone to wear airtight helmets, so some company/government can pretend that air is a finite resource and force people to pay for it.

Brainulator9 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: air helmets

This honestly reminds me too much of the 2012 Lorax film, where the city the characters live in is run by a corporation that sells air to its residents, in lieu of actual trees providing air. Making things worse is the proposal to sell bottled air, which would lead to even more pollution and thus more money given to them.

Given Disney’s lobbying for the MMPA, I can’t help but feel that in both cases, the government is being used as a puppet to put stuff that should and could easily be free behind an arbitrary paywall.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Hombie Zunter says:

Re: AH 2. After reading "Moby", new account "Brainulator9"

caught my eye by beginning a para with "Honestly,", as does "Moby". It’s not conclusive, but stands out for twice in the combined 22 comments. — Indeed, anyone who uses "honestly" at all is likely NOT. That shows high concern for being believed, which honest people don’t.

But there’s more evidence in two oddly bombastic sentences:

Brainulator9: "Honestly, I think Let’s Plays are in a freedom of panorama-esque state"

Mody: "Overlooking the author’s snobby overgeneralization of all police"

Then, Moby writes "I just don’t read Forbes anymore", mentions "GQ", both fairly elitist magazines, and Brainulator9 casually references "caselaw" site, all implying is a lawyer.

So bombastic writing and personality consistent between two "accounts", one new, other with huge gaps, on this one TD page. Isn’t that ODD?

AH 3. Another 2 per year Zombie in prior piece!

neost: 9 (2) Aug 11th, 2015 https://www.techdirt.com/user/neost

THREE in one day! — After this week taking a good swipe at Geigner whom I conclude is the Zombie Master, I begin to think his stragety is to put out more of these ODD accounts than I can keep up with!

Now, all to do is wait and watch how the Zombies DON’T respond, also typical.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Lol, it whines about people not responding to it, but then can’t answer simply questions (that require having self-consistent beliefs).

I guess it also either can not grasp the concept people may not care about it/have better things to do, or it’s so attention starved that any, negative or no, is "good".

Anonymous Coward says:

That study’s conclusion was that viewers watched let’s plays at a far higher clip than, say, video game trailers.

Putting aside that I have an old system that won’t even run today’s games, I’ve never liked game trailers. I want to see what a game is actually like and probably 99% of game trailers consist of FMVs and/or gameplay viewed from cinematic angles that you will never actually see during gameplay. If you’re lucky, there might be a couple 1/2 second clips of actual gameplay footage interspersed throughout the trailer. Watching most of them, you’d think that the game was going to to be a full interactive movie complete with closeups, sweeping aerial shots, zooms, etc.

If I want to see what a game actually looks like, I’ll look for a let’s play. If it’s a game I think I might want to play at some point in the future, I’ll just skim the video to avoid spoiling too much of it for myself. I’ll only watch a full let’s play video if it’s something that I’ve already played myself, or that I don’t have any interest in playing through.

WarioBarker (profile) says:

Isn’t what Hutchinson’s suggesting almost exactly what Stadia itself does? Players pay for each individual game for the right to play them via the streaming service, and any game can be removed if publishers or Google decide to enforce their right of removal.

Requiring a license to livestream a game would be problematic. Right off the top of my head, some questions:

  • Would licenses be required from each development studio and publisher? What if either no longer exists?
  • For adaptations of TV shows/movies/etc., would a license be required from the property’s rightsholders as well, or individuals whose likenesses and/or voices are used?
  • What about games in the public domain, or where the rightsholder is unknown, or those with rightsholders that are notoriously abrasive towards criticism?

Hutchinson’s idea would force streamers to either have to track down all the needed info to know who to pay for licenses, or just not stream games at all. Licenses would be extremely costly for the more popular streamers, absolutely cripple less-popular ones and those who livestream games as a hobby, and deter anyone who’d want to get into the field…and I think he knows that.

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